LETTER xxv " EATING "WOOD" 169
would have to " eat more wood than they had ever eaten
in their lives on going back to Hamadan." ("Eating
wood " is the phrase for being bastinadoed.) A squabble
the first morning is a usual occurrence, and Miss M-------
thought it would be all right, and advised me to go on
to Eooltapa, the first stage put down by the cJiarvadars.
Cultivation extends over the eight miles from Hamadan
to Bahar. There are streams, and willows, and various
hamlets with much wood, and Bahar is completely buried
in orchards and poplars. It is a place of 1500 people,
and has well-built houses, small mosques, and mollalis*
schools. It makes gelims (thin carpets), and grows
besides wheat, barley, cotton, and oil seeds, an immense
quantity of fruit, which has a ready market in the city.
Miss M-------and Pastor Ovannes escorted me for the
first mile, and, meeting the caravan on their way back,
gave Sharban a parting exhortation. As soon as they
were out of sight he sent back one man, and, in spite
of Mirza's remonstrances, drove my yabus with the big
caravan—a grievance to start with, as his baggage animals
were so heavily loaded that they could not go even two
miles an hour, and I have taken five, though I only
need three, in order to get over the ground at three miles
an hour. I am obliged to have Johannes with me, as
comparatively little Persian is spoken by the common
people along this road.
Beyond Bahar the road lies over elevated table-lands,
destitute of springs and streams, and now scorched up.
One or two small villages, lying off the track, and some
ruinous towers on eminences, built for watching robbers,
scarcely break the monotony of this twenty-four miles'
At three, having ascended nearly 1000 feet, we
reached the small and very poor walled village of Kool-
tapa, below which are some reservoirs, a series of pools